John Mburu: From the course to golf tourism

Nomadic Golf Limited Chief Executive Officer John Mburu during the interview at Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort in Naivasha, Nakuru county, November 28, 2023. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

Nobody ever gave John Mburu a chance when he quit playing golf to follow his heart and become a tournament organiser.

At 27 years old, most of his teammates are still strongly competitive on the golf course, but for Mburu, a Bachelor of Tourism Management graduate at Strathmore University, has no regrets whatsoever. As the brainchild of the fast-growing Nomadic Golf Series, he is truly living his dream by providing a unique blend of golf tours, combined with golf and an authentic African safari experience.

Having started playing golf at the age of eight years in Mombasa, sharpened his skills at Victoria Academy in South Africa, won several accolades, represented the nation at junior and senior levels, and was once ranked as one of the best amateurs in the country Mburu was destined for greatness.

However, an idea that came up during coursework in class, a few years after their team disappointingly failed to travel to Mexico for the International Long Drive Championship, looks to be a game changer in the Kenyan golf ecosystem.

“To be honest, I have no regrets because the fact that there is a challenge in terms of competitive growth in the country, even in my senior year, is one of the reasons why I decided to quit playing and venture into organizing exclusive golf tournaments,” said Mburu.

“During my training in South Africa, I was able to identify various gaps in the game and that I was not meant for a playing career. Anytime I came to visit, most of the amateurs, and the pros told me that there was a lack of tournaments. So, that's what drove me to come up with the concept of the Nomadic Golf Series.

“From my playing experiences in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom I was able to see the different levels of golf in different countries. And that's what gave birth to a lot of the ideas that we have been putting in place in the tournament.”

While most of the existing tournaments in the country are corporate-based, Mburu decided to go the tourism route.

“I identified that there is a gap in the golf tourism space, and I did not see any establishment or any entity that is trying to put together golf events that are based on travelling, exploring different parts of the country, counties, and golf courses,” he said.

“So the whole background behind the Nomadic Golf Series is to travel the country and play golf as we explore that specific destination that will be travelling. But most importantly, we get to visit other sites and experience different cultures, and food.”

And with the grand finale of the inaugural Nomadic Golf series dubbed ‘Road to Cape Town’ that cost organisers Sh3.5 million set for this Saturday at the Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort, Naivasha, Mburu says he is pleased to have taken the game to the regions and brought excitement to many Amateur golfers.

The overall winner of the grand finale which has attracted over 120 golfers including 12 qualifiers from each club, will get a fully paid trip to Cape Town courtesy of the series organisers', Nomadic Golf Limited.

The launch was held at Kenya Railway Golf Club (KRGC), followed by the second leg at Thika Green Golf Resort (TGGR), Nanyuki Sports Club (NSC), before heading down to the coast for the fourth leg held at the Professional Golfers Association (PGA) rated Baobab Vipingo Ridge Golf Club, Nyali Golf and Country Club and winding up at the seafront Mombasa Golf Club course. 

“The series has been really good and we’ve enjoyed putting the events together. But it has not been without its challenges, one of which has been the lack of adequate sponsorship. However, we worked with what we had and we are looking forward to staging a memorable event on Saturday,” said Mburu.

“If we manage to get Sh5 million next year, we will be able to stage a much more vibrant event and even incorporate pros into it. Currently, pro golfers in this country are having a challenge putting food on the table because they are confined to teaching."

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